I live in Boston now.

February 14, 2008

Dear Douche: A social experiment

February 14, 2008

Sexism: Valentine’s Day Edition

February 14, 2008
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You can tell how a person feels about Valentine’s Day by the way they say it. Listen for it. The sentiment is carefully packed inside each syllable just like when people say President Bush or New Jersey. A word like that means people have opinions – strong ones. Add in the fact that the subject at hand is relationships and, more specifically, how they’re expressed by men and women, and you’ve really got something to blog about.

Some observations, some statements, and some special requests. Brace yourselves. Tough love ahead.

Dear boys with girlfriends,
We know you’re not all crazy about Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s a lot of pressure. Yes, it’s a “Hallmark Holiday.” Yes, you should just show love every day and not have to buy flowers that will die tomorrow on one random day in February. Sadly, none of that matters. Valentine’s Day exists. It’s February 14th, and everyone has been informed. To those of you who have accepted this and found a way to express your affection through some form of reasonable gift that speaks appropriately to your relationship (no weekend get-away if it’s been three months, no DVD if it’s been three years), bravo! You both maintain your manhood and get to have sex on this holiday. To those of you who protest the holiday, complain about it endlessly, or believe your girlfriend when she says it really doesn’t matter to her, prepare for a world of bad. What exactly are you trying to prove by being against this holiday? If it’s that you love your girlfriend so very much that you’re deeply offended by the mere suggestion that one day should attempt to encapsulate all this love and thus you protest the very notion – then I’d say you’ll make a mediocre lawyer and a shitty boyfriend. I think it usually goes like this:

  • You don’t like to have to buy gifts because it’s A. complicated B. expensive and C. full of pressure. Right. A1. Think about it for more than 5 minutes and then consult one of the billion websites that start making suggestions for V-day the day after Christmas. B1. Some of the most lovely gifts cost very little. Those may take 10 minutes of thinking and can’t be found on a website. C1. Deal with it — like you deal with the pressure of your adult job and your Fantasy Baseball League. Or, ask any of your girlfriend’s friends or family members. They will always know.
  • You resent that this holiday is somehow your responsibility. This is valid. I don’t have a direct retort other than to say, you make the dinner reservations once a year and we’ll birth the children. Kidding. I prefer to cook in. But seriously – some things are a hold over from the olden days of chivalry. I do agree that Valentine’s Day should be a mutual effort, but it would be nice if you could get behind the tradition and put in your share of it. If you have that big a problem with it – kindly discuss it with your hopefully feminist-minded lady and come to an agreement. And if she insists this day is all about her and you just have to deal – dump her.
  • You’re lazy and this takes effort. Just a second. I need to find my soap box. Oh. Right. I’m standing on it. Relationships are very special. They’re also hard to find. If you’ve found one that you even remotely like please grow a set and treat it with care.

Dear boys without girlfriends,

Could you all make some form of decision about where you’re going to be on Valentine’s Day night so we can go there too and work something out? Thanks.

Dear girls with boyfriends,
You’re going to need to make every effort to just fucking relax a little bit about this. Yes, it is very special. Yes, he should be able to make an effort one day out of the year. Of course you’re very easy to shop for. But if you could calm down a little this whole process will be a lot better for the both of you. A few things to remember:

  • Men may be able to pee standing up, but they can’t read minds. If you want something very very badly and will be extremely disappointed if you don’t get it – be that a dinner reservation or a diamond necklace – you’re going to have to make it a little clearer than 5 magazines with flagged pages strewn about the apartment.
  • Be reasonable. This is about the two of you, not the two of you in comparison to your friends, co-workers, and members of the Real World House. Pressure applies on both fronts. He may need to buck up but you probably need to buck down (which is either the opposite of buck up or a gross sexual term).
  • It is not all about you. Do something for him. No, sex doesn’t count.

Dear girls without boyfriends,
I know it’s not easy. I know thoughtful cards from your Mom and girlfriends or fun dinners with your gay best friend don’t make it a ton better. Bottom line: it’s not going away, it’s one day out of the year, and the bitter, angry, man-hating routine is really overplayed not to mention totally transparent. Do something fun. Show some people you love them – friends, family, who cares. Cursing the day is counter-productive. Using it to make some other people feel nice is following the Golden Rule which, apparently, is wildly important. Also I guarentee their appreciation will make you feel nice. I know that sounds silly, but I’ve found that silly-sounding things are usually quite wonderful – like the circus – or making really involved scrap books.
If you’re still miserable, lonely, and annoyed – male or female – and just want this day to end then I suggest dealing with it like the Jews deal with Christmas. Order Chinese and go to a movie.

3 comments

  1. I would like to add a note to the “boys with girlfriends” section. The whole argument about not needing to be told on a specific day that it’s time to do something special only works if you ACTUALLY DO NICE/SWEET/ROMANTIC THINGS ON A SEMI-REGULAR BASIS. When that starts happening, I will happily forfeit Valentine’s Day. Until then, bring on the obligatory red roses on February 14th.

  2. I’m a HUGE fan of the chivalry reference. While at a marriage warm-up session, I told a bunch of engaged couples the story of how Kristen and I got our start. The pivotal line of course being “I assure you, chivalry is not dead.” At the end of the day, one of the dudes in the group retrieved his fiancee’s coat for her about which she was extremely excited. His response, “See, chivalry is not dead!” Nothing wrong with going old school when it comes to relationships. BOOM.

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